Complete ResultsNASHVILLE, Tenn. -- University of Tennessee junior Sarah Bowman claimed an individual victory at the Belmont Opener for the second time in three seasons and helped the Lady Volunteer cross country team begin its 2007 season with a team title Friday evening at Percy Warner Park.
The Big Orange, who boasted three of the top five finishers, tallied 53 points to hold off runner-up Vanderbilt (58). Belmont and last year’s victor, UAB, tied for third with 75 points, followed by Alabama (117), Murray State (146), Middle Tennessee State (175), Lipscomb (195), Eastern Illinois (226), Mercer (265), UT-Martin (346), Alabama State (375), Asbury (400), Christian Brothers (450), Bethel (468) and Crichton (487).
The Lady Vols claimed their first victory at the meet after finishing second the past two years, including a one-point loss to UAB in 2006. UT, picked to finish second in the SEC, now has opened the season with wins three times (2002, 2004, 2007) in the past six seasons and has posted 17 meet titles in 36 events during Clark’s tenure.
Running on the Vaughn’s Creek Course in 87-degree heat, Bowman covered the 4,000-meter distance in 14 minutes, 00.58 seconds to post her first meet triumph since opening her collegiate career with back-to-back wins at the Belmont Opener and Tennessee Invitational two seasons ago. The two-time All-SEC performer, who now has led her team to the finish line five times in her career, clocked in with a readout of 14:09.82 in 2005. Today, Bowman’s improved readout allowed her to comfortably hold off UAB’s Elizabeth Ambrus, who grabbed runner-up honors for the second straight season in 14:10.88.
Junior Katie Van Horn (Glendora, N.J.) and sophomore Jackie Areson (Delray Beach, Fla.) joined Bowman in the UT top five this evening, grabbing third and fifth places, respectively, in 14:24.32 and 14:33.73. Areson was 12th at this meet a year ago, while Van Horn was 29th. Bowman did not travel to Nashville last season to defend her title.
Rounding out the scoring five for Team Orange on Friday were freshman Brittany Sheffey (Bellport, N.Y.) and sophomore Phoebe Wright (Signal Mountain, Tenn.). Sheffey made her Lady Vol debut by placing 16th in 15:07.33, while Wright made UT’s top five for the first time in placing 28th at 15:31.71. Wright came in 44th last season.
Also running today, but not scoring, were juniors Rolanda Bell (Laurelton, N.Y.) and Kimarra McDonald (Lumberton, N.J.). Bell placed 39th in 16:03.24, while McDonald reported in 63rd at 16:56.14.
“I thought for this early in the season, and for the amount of work we’ve done, the team ran well,” Clark said. “I have to congratulate Sarah Bowman for her win. That’s a nice way to start a season.
“It was a good race for both Katie and Jackie as well. My hat is also off to Brittany Sheffey, who scored in her first collegiate meet, and Phoebe Wright, who came through big for us and scored for the initial time in her career.”
The Lady Vols will spend the next two weeks training before resuming competition on Sept. 14. On that Friday, they will join the UT men in playing host to the Tennessee Invitational at Lambert Acres Golf Club in Maryville, Tenn. Race times are 5:30 p.m. ET for the 5,000-meter women’s race and 6:15 p.m. for the men’s 8,400-meter affair. Admission is free.